The global custom manufacturing market was valued at $859 Billion in 2021, and is projected to reach $1,350 Billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2022 to 2031. We like customised products and services. Like, a lot.
For two reasons, psychologists say: identity and function.
We like to customise the things we buy to express our individuality, demonstrate our cultural background and facilitate social interactions. We also like to customise the things we buy because we want those things to work according to our very specific requirements, and, when faced with too many product features to choose from, we customise down to the few features we know will work for us.
As a student of consumer psychology, I’m not sure then why I was suprised to learn that this customisation trend has extended all the way into specialty coffee. Something I realised when I came across Officine Fratelli Bambi, La Marzocco’s customisation workshop.
In the fall of 2019, the La Marzocco launched Accademia del Caffè Espresso, a cultural hub, research facility, interactive archive, and international visitors center housed in the company’s original headquarters, originally built in 1959. In 2021, they unveiled a bespoke espresso machine atelier located on the building’s ground floor, and called it Officine Fratelli Bambi.
I spoke to Stefano della Pietra, the Head Designer of La Marzocco and Officine Fratelli Bambi, to ask more.
Please introduce yourself to our audience.
I am Stefano della Pietra, the Head Designer of La Marzocco and Officine Fratelli Bambi.
What is Officine Fratelli Bambi?
Officine Fratelli Bambi is La Marzocco’s customization workshop. A workshop dedicated to craftsmanship and artistry, producing custom-made espresso machines.
With the Officine Fratelli Bambi we are reconnecting to our roots. Starting from the name. Officine Fratelli Bambi translates to Bambi Brothers’ Workshop. When Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi founded La Marzocco they did it within their workshop – the Officine Fratelli Bambi.
When La Marzocco decided to open this customization workshop, the choice of the name was clear. It had to be Officine Fratelli Bambi, because in the new workshop machines are built using traditional techniques, the same techniques the Bambi Brothers had been using for decades.
In Officine you start from a metal sheet, and you witness it becoming an espresso machine. All the cutting, bending, polishing, welding, finishing is done by hand.
Using these techniques, each machine can be different. That’s why Officine Fratelli Bambi works on custom creations. Customers can really decide how their machine is going to look like. They sit with Stefano and define materials, shape, finishing in order to create their bespoke espresso machine.
How does La Marzocco’s location help in terms of access to craftsmen and materials?
Living in Florence, you are even unconsciously used to proportion and beauty, thanks to the fact that Florence and Tuscany have this long-lasting history of art and craftsmanship.
Being surrounded by all these works of art, that were thought and designed not only to be beautiful but also to stand the test of time, is a great inspiration for my work. It pushes me to pursue classic and functional lines, so that a machine can sit on a counter for many years without surrendering to temporary trends.
You were an apprentice of the late Piero Bambi, son of La Marzocco founder Giuseppe Bambi, for six years before stepping into your current role. What would you say are the most important lessons you learned from him?
I learnt that it’s more difficult to design something simple and rational than to design a complex shape. Details matter. Piero used to say that there are washing machines or ovens that are beautiful. Although they are basically boxes, sometimes they are so well designed and detailed that they can be amazing design objects.
He taught me that working on a well-proportioned design is not enough, that I should work on the details of that design. Because details make a difference.
Yet, Piero strongly believed that aesthetics never had to affect functionality, because it’s functionality that makes La Marzocco a world-renowned brand.
Tell us about the process of designing a bespoke machine. And which parts of the machine can customers have made bespoke?
The custom orders we are most proud of are the ones that are born from a personal connection. Whether it’s on a call or on a in-person meeting, this is the best way to understand what the customer wants, and how we can make it happen.
We can explain what can or cannot be done manually, and highlight the beauty of handmade techniques. The time and care that go into a bespoke machine.
After this initial phase, when we define the customization, I work on the 3D drawing of the machine and then share a rendering of the machine with the customer.
Once the aesthetics gets approved, we move on with the production of the machine. The internal components are assembled at La Marzocco’s headquarters in Scarperia, while the outer body is built from scratch at the Officine
The one thing we do not touch when working on a custom machine, is the performance of the machine. We do not add anything that might sacrifice the performance and functionality of a machine.
The concern that robots will replace humans in the workplace has been around for a while. Lately, the topic of Ai is sparking renewed debate. Do you think La Marzocco will always be “handmade in Florence”?
Since 1927, La Marzocco has produced machines that are “handmade in Florence”. And for us, the commitment of remaining true to that statement is more important than ever.
Over the most recent years, we’ve done many investments, and brought much technological innovation to our production floor. Yet, we made sure that that innovation was supporting the work of our people, and not substituting it. The idea is to keep the assembly process manual and incorporate technology to improve the handling of the components and live-monitor stock levels and the up-to-date status of production.
Officine Fratelli Bambi is the best way to underline our commitment to a handmade production, as it is the pinnacle of this kind of philosophy, and a celebration of our artisanal tradition and history.
For more information, contact the UAE office of La Marzocco here.